Okay, so you’ve sworn off donuts. You’re now counting carbs or calories, and you’ve hit the gym. What a great start to the new year, but here is something to think about. In addition to improving yourself, you might also want to consider a credit workout for your business. With just a few simple steps, you can improve your credit fitness, and reduce the “fat” to become a leaner and a more profitable enterprise.
Here are 10 easy tips to help get you started:
1. Avoid a taxing situation
January’s a great time to prepare and organize for the upcoming tax filing dates. To make things easier, consider one of the many apps available for your smartphone or tablet. These apps can keep your receipts organized and your miles tracked – and the information can be emailed right to your accountant at the end of the year. Also, be mindful of the required filing dates – last year’s government closure has affected the dates by one to two weeks. Visit irs.gov to be sure you have timely information.
2. Go digital
The advent of cloud storage services and backup capabilities has significantly reduced paper consumption in the office. By going digital, you’ll save money on paper costs and keep things better organized to boot. Consider cloud solutions such as Google Drive or Dropbox, you can usually open an account for free, and pay for additional storage as your needs expand.
3. Be cautiously optimistic
While trade credit may well be loosening in 2014, it’s critical for business owners to manage finances judiciously and not over react to an improving market. Remember that a financial recovery never seems to follow a straight line.
4. Be penny wise
Create a culture of savings by taking a second look at and re-evaluating all of your expenses. Even the smallest changes may help your profit margins improve year-after-year.
5. Choose the right credit card
If you plan to use a business credit card, check to be sure the one you’ve selected has a good rewards program. The best ones allow rewards to be earned easily with no expiration. Look for a card with no limits to earning amounts, no redemption tiers, and has the opportunity to rack up many points or other rewards on your spending. To optimize your benefits when using a cash-back rewards card, be sure to pay down your balance each month. For example, take a cash-back card that earns 1 percent back with a 16 percent interest rate. If you charge $500 and pay off only $100 of that, you incurred $6.67 in interest and earned only $5 in cash back.
6. Credit card processing fees
Shop for the best rates on credit card processing fees. Consider working with two credit card processing companies so you have some room for negotiation.
7. Contribute to charity
While it’s too late to get a charity tax donation benefit for 2013, plan to make a tax-deductible cash or goods donation before year end. You’ll feel good about it, get a tax benefit and help your favorite charity achieve its mission. Be sure to keep the receipts and documentation of your donation for your tax claim.
8. Terminate recurring payments
Mind your credit card statements every month to determine if you are being invoiced for recurrent payments. If so, that should be stopped. It’s not uncommon to have a double payment or a stale payment that is still being billed to your credit card.
9. Provide a retirement plan
Recognize your employees for their good work with a retirement plan. In addition to giving your employees a great incentive, you may also qualify for money-saving tax credits.
10. Insist on having timely data
Make more informed decisions this year by tapping into the right credit tools. For example, Experian’s BusinessIQSM is an advanced online commercial credit and risk management application that delivers the industry’s best practices and top analytical intelligence right to your desktop.
For more information about Experian’s advanced business-to-business products and services, visit www.experian.com/b2b.